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Komakata Hall and Azuma Bridge, No. 62 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

It is the rainy season of the Fifth Month (June to early July), a time of overcast skies and persistent light rain. Against the subtle suggestion of rain, which is very difficult to achieve, two balanced images stand out against the sky: the red flag, a symbol of rouge (for this is the sign of a cosmetics dealer) and a small cuckoo known for its sharp cry, associated in poetry with dawn and with loneliness. The placement of the cuckoo above Komakata Hall (seen here at the lower left) is no accident but a reference to a famous love poem by a Yoshiwara courtesan awaiting the return of her lover.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Found: Japan
  • DATES 1st month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 3/16 in. (36.2 x 23.3 cm) Image: 13 1/2 x 9 in. (34.3 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.62
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This view looks west across the Sumida River to the Honjo district. There is a partial view of the Azuma Bridge at the far left. The square temple building in the lower left corner is Komakata Hall, which contained an image of Kannon crowned with a horse's head (Bato Kannon). Komakata Hall has since been rebuilt and is presently about seventy yards north from its earlier Edo location. At the site of the red flag is a cosmetics dealer, "Hyakusuke;" the red flag represents rouge. Above, a small cuckoo (hototogisu) passes through the city on its way to its mountain habitat; cuckoos were known for their sharp cry, "likened to the tearing of cloth," associated in poetry with dawn and loneliness (H. Smith, 1986). The artist's portrayal of the hototogisu above Komakata Hall would bring to mind a famous love poem composed by the celebrated Takao of the Yoshiwara. This scene depicts the rainy season, June to July, shown here in the blue-gray pattern of the wood grain, wisps of clouds, and the streaks of rain, printed in glinting mica.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Komakata Hall and Azuma Bridge, No. 62 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1st month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 3/16 in. (36.2 x 23.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.62 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.62_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.62_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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